Thursday, December 8, 2011

Itasca Holiday Program Toy Donations Needed

Due to the overwhelming need in our community this year, Second Harvest is reporting that donations of toys for the Itasca Holiday Program recipient families are running below previous years. More than 1800 gift bags will be filled on Saturday, December 17th but at this time, there aren’t enough donated gifts to provide each referred child with at least one item.
“There is only one week left for toy collection and our bins are only half full of what we will need to provide for the qualified families next Saturday,” says Sue Estee, Second Harvest Executive Director. “Just when we have desperate families with nothing to give to their children for Christmas, people who have been able to donate in the past are cutting back on their own holiday shopping.” The result will be that the gift portion of the Itasca Holiday Program will have to scale back on what can be added to the toy bags and some children may be left out.

Toy donations are being collected at many local businesses and churches. Donations can be dropped at any of the red and green gingerbread giving tree locations, Toys for Tots locations or brought directly out to Second Harvest during regular business hours. The deadline for toy donations is Friday, December 16th at 5pm.

The primary component of the Itasca Holiday Program is a special food box containing traditional holiday foods and other items to provide for several additional meals. A $15 grocery voucher is included for a holiday turkey or other food item that the family would like. Funds are still needed to provide for the food that needs to be purchased to fill 1700 food boxes.

For more information about how to help Second Harvest’s annual Itasca Holiday Program, call 218.326.4420 or visit

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank serves 145 hunger relief agencies in Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties. Almost 4 million pounds of food and grocery products were distributed directly to clients or through member agencies in 2010. For more information regarding Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, visit or call 218.326.4420.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feeding Hope

This is the time of year that many people become stressed over all the additional obligations the holidays bring on, such as shopping, baking, parties etc. But many people in our community are under continual stress to meet their basic needs. Mothers go without food in order to feed their children. Seniors have to choose between medicine and meals. Dads have to decide whether to pay the heat bill or eat dinner. People in our community make these hard choices every day.

Second Harvest and our local food shelves and related hunger relief organizations work hard every day to help our struggling friends and neighbors meet their basic need for food. These organizations are also struggling to meet the increasing need at the same time that the donated food supply from the food industry and government commodities is dwindling and purchased food costs more to acquire. The numbers of households coming to local food shelves for assistance is up 13% over the same time last year. Since 2008, the numbers of households coming for help is up over 34%! It is a “perfect storm” of increased need in our community and decreased resources to meet those needs. Despite these challenges, we at Second Harvest are doing our best to bring in enough food to fill the missing meal gap for struggling local families.

As you sit down to a holiday meal or rush around shopping for your loved ones, remember there are many in our community who don’t have the means to enjoy the season. Thanks to the support of this caring community, Second Harvest is able to help those kids, seniors and struggling families. Together we are feeding hope.